The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches
Known for its spectacular emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and sugar-white sands, Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island offer plenty of fun-filled beach activities for everyone. From building sand castles to watching breathtaking sunsets, our award-winning beaches have become one of America’s favorite vacation destinations.
Wayside Park (the Boardwalk) at 1300 Miracle Strip Pkwy. is a park adjacent to the fishing pier which offers several pavilions, 41 picnic tables, restrooms, volleyball nets, a children’s playground, dune walkovers to the beach and lots of parking. John C. Beasley Public Beach Park at 1560 Miracle Strip Pkwy is just to the east of Wayside Park. There are also seven 100 ft. wide public accesses on Okaloosa Island which span from the sound to the beach. Many of these accesses are improved on the gulf side with parking and restrooms.
History Of Okaloosa Island – Why is the beach sand in Destin and Okaloosa Island as white as sugar?
Okaloosa County acquired a long term leasehold interest in 3-miles and 875 acres of Santa Rosa Island in 1950 which is today known as Okaloosa Island. In 1963, The Corps of Engineers deeded this island to the Okaloosa Island Authority and with this transaction it removed limitations and restrictions on the property except for a 75 foot aerial easement which is the current height limitation thru today on Okaloosa Island. In 1975, legislation was passed which abolished the Okaloosa Island Authority and transferred the duties to the County Commissioners of Okaloosa County which started to collect property taxes from the homeowners on Okaloosa Island. In 1995, the County Commissioners approved allowing leaseholders on the island to obtain fee simple title to their property instead of the leasehold interest.
Why is the sand so white and beautiful? Okaloosa Island’s and Destin’s white sand consists of small quartz particles and that the sand came from a process involving the Appalachian Mountains and the Apalachicola River 20,000 years ago. At the end of the last Ice Age when the world temperatures began warming and the ice caps began melting, large volumes of water were carried by the rivers to the world’s oceans. The Apalachicola River, rising in the Appalachians, carried water to the Gulf of Mexico and continues today.
This water carried the quartz particles from the rock that forms the Appalachian Mountains and deposited them in the Gulf of Mexico, just 125 miles to the east of what is now Okaloosa Island and Destin. As the sea level began to rise, these quartz sands eventually formed a new shoreline. The sands today continually replenish and reach as far west as the Pensacola Pass, their final destination.